You are stronger than your failures.
Life is full of ups and downs, and no one is immune to that. How you view them is the key to resilience. This is the power of perspective. The following activity will show you how changing your perspective can change your world. You hold the power in how you respond to whatever life brings.
The Power of Perspective Activity
When presented with a stressful experience, each of us can view it differently. In this activity, you'll explore how perspective influences you and what it would be like to change it.
Here are 5 common ways of looking at a situation, some of which you may identify with. You can explore these perspectives (aka "thinking hats") more in depth on page 1 of this handout.
- The Catastrophizer focuses on the worst-case scenario, especially in stressful situations.
- The Chill looks relaxed and happy on the outside, afraid and doubtful on the inside, procrastinates on challenging tasks and opts for instant gratification instead.
- The Perfectionist holds themselves and often others to unreasonably high standards, viewing anything less than perfect as a “failure.”
- The Blamer deflects the pain of failure and struggle by holding other people and circumstances responsible for their performance.
- The Bright-Sider tries to live with “positive vibes only,” they approach life and its challenges with an overly confident, often dismissive attitude.
Find the perspective you relate to the most.
Think about a stressful experience that you are currently going through (or have gone through) and write down your answers to the following prompts:
- How did that perspective feel?
- How could you tell which perspective you were using?
- Was it helpful or not helpful (or both) to view this situation from that perspective?
- How did that perspective influence your options for overcoming and/or addressing the situation?
- Have you reacted like this to other stressful situations? How has that worked for you?
Now let’s discover what happens when we change our perspective. These "flipsides" give you a more helpful and flexible response while using the strengths of your original perspective. You can explore these flipsides more in depth on page 2 of this handout.
- The Catastophizer becomes The Problem Solver who plans for potential setbacks, focusing on the most realistic worst-case outcome and its solutions.
- The Chill becomes The Level-Header who stays motivated while working toward important goals by striking a balance between enjoying the moment and looking toward the future.
- The Perfectionist becomes The Thriver who believes that failure is part of living a full life, which helps them think creatively and take risks when needed.
- The Blamer becomes The Self-Advocate who communicates clearly, identifies their needs and the resources to meet them, and speaks up for themselves and what they believe in.
- The Bright-Sider becomes The Optimist who understands that good things are possible and challenges are solvable with a belief in their own agency.
Find your flipside.
Think about that same stressful experience from the perspective of your flipside and write down your answers to the following prompts:
- How did it feel to view your situation from the flipside?
- What was different between the two perspectives?
- How did this flipside perspective influence your options for overcoming and/or addressing the situation?
- Have you used this flipside perspective in other times in your life? How did that work for you?
- How could you remind yourself of this flipside perspective in the future?
Reflect on the following:
- What did you observe or what feelings came up for you while going through this activity?
- How did using the flipside perspectives lead to a more resilient response?
- What did you notice about the process once you were able to change your perspective?
This activity is just one example of the power of perspective. All it takes is a little practice. As you move through life and stressors arise, take a breath, name the perspective you're using, and ask yourself if you can look at the stressor in a more helpful and meaningful way.